Influence of culture, language, and sex on conversational distance

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Assessed interpersonal distance between seated conversants from 3 cultures varying in purported contact norms. 19 male and 23 female Japanese, 18 male and 16 female Venezuelan, and 16 male and 15 female American undergraduates had a 5-min conversation on a common topic with a same-sex, same-nationality confederate. Three hypotheses were tested: (a) When speaking their native languages, Japanese will sit farther apart than Venezuelans, with Americans at an intermediate distance; (b) females will sit closer than males; and (c) foreign Ss, when speaking English, will more closely approximate American conversational distance than when speaking their native languages. The hypotheses were generally confirmed and support E. T. Hall's (1966) distinction between cultures in terms of their proxemic manifestations of social contact norms. (21 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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